Last week we began to look at Microsoft Sway, the online presentation tool that looks and feels like a website. (Each Sway does, in fact, have a unique url.) The immediate value of Sway is that it uses AI for it’s design, keeping students focused on the content. We also looked at the templates in Sway, which gives students that need it some extra support by providing structure, as well as starting Sway from a topic, which gives an extra layer of support by essentially building an outline for students to fill in on their topic. Sway has a variety of supports built in that teachers can use to differentiate how students utilize Sway. Another is the start a Sway from a document. Welcome to Day 54 of 365 Ideas for Office 365, the “WordSway”.
Sway is differentiated
This twist on using Sway isn’t so much about support like using templates or topics. It’s more about classroom management, or control. If you aren’t sure your students are ready to jump right into creating directly within Sway, you can have them start in a more familiar medium- like a word processing program- Microsoft Word.
Have students write their content, their information, like a traditional paper right in Word. They can type everything in the same font and text size, but at some point, whether at the beginning, end, or just while writing, they should add some headings and a title. When they are finished writing, they can then utilize the Styles in Word. When they create a Sway from a document, it will recognize those headings and title features. In this video, you will see how to use Styles in Word to create headings, as well as how the Format Painter helps you do so more efficiently.
They can also insert images onto their page, and add urls. If they do add urls they should type the text their viewers should click on, click and drag over that text, then either right-click and choose link or else click on insert and choose link, and paste or type the url as the link. In other words, don’t just paste the url right into the text of the Word document. BTW, that’s not just for Sway, but that should be their regular practice with any url.
When you create directly in Sway, you can add images and links, and you can create one Title card, and any number of heading cards and text cards. Because Word and Sway are both Microsoft products, when students are ready to move their document into Sway, Sway recognizes the images, urls, titles and headings.
Purpose of Starting a Sway from a Document
The advantages of starting with a document are, not only is this a more familiar program for students to work in, but also teachers have some added control. Students can continue working or revising in Word until their teacher gives them the OK to move to Sway. This is especially easy if the document is shared with the teacher. (Both OneNote Class Notebook and Microsoft Teams have the ability to distribute “copies” to each student, so the teacher already has access to all the students’ Word documents for that assignment.) Keeping the students in Word until they have teacher approval ensures they continue building meaningful content and stay focused on that task until their material is sufficient. It also makes Sway a carrot to work toward, and a milestone so the students experience a sense of accomplishment.
There are two ways to move from a document to Sway. We’ll consider one today and one tomorrow.
Making the Move
From Sway, one of your options for creating a new Sway is to “Start from a document.” This is available from both the new and old Sway home pages.
This opens a Windows Explorer window so the student can choose the file to upload to convert into a new Sway. Notice that I have OneDrive as a drive synced to my desktop, so even if I worked in Word Online, I can upload it here. More on that below.
Here is a very simple document I created in Word, and the resulting Sway.
It opens in the editing view. As you can see, each piece of text that was a heading in Word became a heading card in Sway, and pictures are added to cards.
Click on the play button and see what Sway’s AI creates out of your document.
Notice that the correctly formatted link works, but the one at the bottom of the page that was just pasted into Word is NOT clickable. When you start a Sway from a document, it helps reinforce those good habits! Once it is in Sway, it remains fully editable, just as a Sway created any other way. Keep in mind, this can be done on the desktop version of Word or Word Online, but on a Windows device, you will need to upload it to Sway in the end, so if students don’t have their OneDrive synced to their desktop, they will have the extra step of downloading it from word Online. Ironically, on a Chromebook, when they are ready to move it to Sway, they can load it directly from Word Online. Next up we will look at one more way you can differentiate the way your students access utilize Sway.
Have you considered using Sway for a school or class newsletter? check it out here.